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Publisher's Summary

"Were it not for shadows there would be no beauty."

In Praise of Shadows is an eloquent tribute to the austere beauty of traditional Japanese aesthetics. Through architecture, ceramics, theatre, food, women, and even toilets, Tanizaki explains the essence of shadows and darkness, and how they are able to augment beauty. He laments the heavy electric lighting of the West and its introduction to Japan, and shows how the artificial, bright, and polished aesthetic of the West contrasts unfavorably with the moody and natural light of the East. Dreamy, melancholic, and mysterious, In Praise of Shadows is a haunting insight into a forgotten world.

The popular translation by Thomas J. Harper and Edward G. Seidensticker is essential listening for anyone interested in Japan and Japanese culture.

©1977 Leete’s Island Books, Inc. (P)2017 Naxos AudioBooks

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Powerful evocation of materiality and its aura

In Praise of Shadows is as powerful an evocation of materiality's mysterious aura as anything ever composed. In breathtaking prose, Junichiro Tanizaki articulates the vital role of shadows (or the lack of direct light) not only in Japan's traditionally austere architectural design, but indeed in the long history of the Orient itself. He beautifully unpacks the power of shadows to render even the most everyday utensils and objects enchanting. Running throughout his essay is a dialogue of West vs. East -- of the harsh luminescence of Western lighting versus the warm embrace of the East's sparse use of light. This is essential reading not simply for those interested in Japanese culture and history, but rather for all who wish to further explore the power and agency of the material world. Sheer brilliance.

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How to listen

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